By Eric Reikowski, media relations assistant
The Oakland University community will pay tribute to diversity with the 2012 African American Celebration Month: Justice, Freedom, Change…Now is the Time. Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a Dream” speech, this year’s theme will spotlight black history and cultural achievements with a series of events headlined by the 20th annual Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Awards on Monday, Jan. 16.
Featuring a keynote address from rapper, activist and author Common, the ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. in the Oakland Center Banquet Rooms. Following the event, a special kick-off party with food, African dancing and singing performances will be held from 12:30 – 2 p.m. in the Oakland Center Pioneer Food Court.
This year’s celebration offers a wide array of activities and experiences, according to Aniesha K. Mitchell, AACM committee co-chair.
“We have a number of programs that will focus on health, the civil rights movements, race relations, religion and our signature "Taste of Africa” event, which showcases ethnic food, dance and tradition,” Mitchell said. “It’s not just African history, it’s also American history.”
A panel discussion centered on Christianity and Islam will be held from noon-1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18, in the Oakland Center Fireside Lounge.
A variety of presentations are also scheduled throughout the month from African-American scholars and leaders. Longtime activist John W. Hardy will discuss his experiences taking part in sit-ins and freedom rides during the 1960s from noon-1 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, in Oakland Center Banquet Room B.
In addition, Filmmaker Coy Davis will present his TV documentary “Whatever Happened to Idlewild,” which chronicles the history of a once popular Michigan-based resort for African-Americans that became a symbol of black success during the segregation era. The screening will take place from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, in Oakland Center Gold Room A.
The celebration will continue with a thought-provoking talk from General Gordon Baker, leader of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement. General Baker rose to prominence during the 1960s as a leader of the Detroit Wildcat Strikes and was among the first Americans to resist being drafted into the Vietnam conflict.
The discussion will turn to health issues when Dr. Frances Jackson, a professor in Oakland’s School of Nursing, addresses the subject of HIV/AIDS in the black community from 5:30 – 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9, in the Oakland Center Fireside Lounge.
The signature Taste of Africa Gala will take place from 4-7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10, in the Oakland Center Banquet Rooms. A full evening of entertainment is planned as attendees are invited to sample a diverse selection of culinary creations and enjoy the sights and sounds of African music, dance and spoken word performances. For a complete listing of events, view the website at oakland.edu/aacm
The 2012 African American Celebration Month at Oakland University is supported by the Center for Multicultural Initiatives, Black Student Union, Office of the Dean of Students, Kresge Library, Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc., National Association of Black Accountants, Office of the Provost, School of Business Administration, School of Engineering and Computer Science, School of Health Sciences, School of Nursing, Student Affairs and Student Program Board.
For more information about African American Celebration Month at OU, call (248) 370-4404. All events are free and open to the public.